Catching Up

  • A trip to Cleveland for work.
  • Hurricane Irene.
  • Visit from a friend.
  • Exploration of state parks.
  • Enameled cast-iron dutch oven.
  • More thrift store CorningWare.
  • My first FroYo since I was 5 years old.
  • Seared scallops, eggplant carbonata, vegetarian shepherds pie, vegetarian baked beans, cast-iron-skillet corn bread.
  • Neck and shoulder discomfort.
That pretty much summarizes the last couple of weeks since my last blog post. During my week in Cleveland, I was able to catch up with family and some friends - and I sampled a couple of new restaurants I'd never been to. Paladar's in Beechwood had delicious flavored guacamoles which has inspired me to attempt my own. Best Friends in Mentor reminded me how much I enjoy comfort breakfast foods - waffles, pancakes, omelettes, bacon, muffins, etc. Work was work but I have a renewed appreciation for freedom here in Virginia Beach - cooking, blogging and writing are far more rewarding than a desk position with a company.

Hurricane Irene felt like a bad thunderstorm without the thunder and lightning. We sat in the apartment for a whole day, waiting for the hammer to fall and it never did. There seemed to have been some light flooding, dead tree branches scattered here and there, and poorly rooted shrubbery partially uprooted around the apartment complex. Hurricane? What hurricane?

Our friend E drove in to visit us during the middle of the hurricane, and we spent the following few days after the storm exploring local state parks and sampling local cuisine. I think we may end up purchasing a yearly pass for one of the state parks approx 30 minutes from the apartment - it's heavily forested with lovely trails through swamps resembling the everglades and even a beach area that will be perfect for jogging or running. 

The second park we visited was an absolutely gorgeous nature preserve and if we lived closer, I would be visiting the rolling dunes and marshland trails at least a few times per week - but alas, the preserve is almost an hour away. I plan to take all visiting friends and family on a trip to this preserve - there's nothing like it in any of the cities I've lived in.

Our friend also insisted we try Yo Mamma's FroYo bar - delicious! When I was very young, I remember having frozen yogurt a few times with limited flavor options: vanilla, chocolate and peanut butter. No toppings, no fresh fruit toppings, no exotic yogurt flavors. Yet despite all the delicious flavor options and toppings now available at most FroYo bars, my favorite part of the experience is the lightness of the yogurt. Rather than feeling bloated and sodden with cream and eggs, the frozen yogurt seems to barely hit the stomach. Now I need to explore FroYo recipes for my ice cream maker.

While out browsing, I picked up a ridiculous amount of treasured pyroceram CorningWare and Pyrex Cinderella nesting bowls - and a quite expensive Chasseur enameled cast iron dutch oven. It cooks beautifully and was perfect for making two new recipes: my friend Sabrina's fabulous vegetarian shepherds pie and my first attempt at homemade baked beans. No doubt I could have used other cookware to create these dishes, but I fancy the enameled cast iron for it's phenomenal heat distribution and easy cleanup. And I don't have to season it every time I cook with it!

Regarding the CorningWare and Pyrex - I really need to reorganize my kitchen and sort through this mess of treasures I have accumulated. I suspect I will need to sell a few items on eBay or Craigslist eventually. And now that I have most of the pieces I was searching for, I need to restrain myself from dogging the thrift stores. That whole obsessive part of myself has been rearing it's willful head of late.

Speaking of which - I've had to cut out my workouts due to neck and shoulder pain. I seem to strained a muscle or two and perhaps irritated a host of others. I really was trying to ease back into working out, but my body seems to disagree so for now I'm sticking with brisk evening walks. If I can just get my shoulders and neck to settled down, perhaps I'll work in some crunches.

There. That's pretty much everything. Did I leave out the part about watching entirely too much TV thanks to Amazon Instant Video? Yes, I'm hooked. Now, if they just had the Golden Girls, I might never turn off the TV!